Young entrepreneur taps job market

Cooper McKay turning a sod and a dollar. Photo: Nikki South.

It tells us there is a definite demand for teenager employment if there was an easy way of connecting that pool of workers with the marketplace.

And that’s what 14-year-old entrepreneur Josh Callander seems to have done with his novel Teen Jobs website.

More than 250 Tauranga kids have registered their availability for holiday employment on the Mount Maunganui College student’s website.

Like 15-year-old Cooper McKay, who didn’t have a job for the holidays. Even though he was “kind of looking”.

Now he’s made more than $300 spreading mulch, shoveling sand into the ‘kindy’ sandpit, mowing lawns, weed-eating and planting shrubs.

He’s made $300-plus for just two hours a day, five days a week, for a month. “Quite good money which I did not expect to make,” says Cooper from Papamoa. And he was outside where he loves to be, and earning money.

And he can be grateful to the ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills of a fellow Mount Maunganui College student Josh Callander for his break.

He couldn’t find a job. “He did a paper run for a year,” says mum Fiona Callander. “But he was looking for something different, something better paid to keep himself busy during the school holidays.”

And from a problem came inspiration for the young man, who likes computers and business. He pulled those strands together to come up with the idea of Teen Jobs, a website connecting 13-19-year-olds with potential jobs. “Students register their interest in a job category – everything from household jobs to cleaning and mowing lawns. Then there are the more permanent categories like retail and reception work to administrative help.”

Then potential employers can scan the talent available – who can do what and when. It works for everyone. More than 250 Tauranga secondary school students have registered with Josh Callander’s Teen Jobs. Even he’s surprised at the uptake. “Everyone tells me they like the site and it’s very helpful.”

“Mowing lawns one weekend, washing cars the next,” said one teenager’s personal endorsement on the Teen Jobs site. “I work at what I want and when I want.”

“I’m saving up for my first car and Teen Jobs has made finding work so easy,” said another. One employer said he used to struggle to find helpers in his shop during the busy Christmas period. Now he goes straight to Teen Jobs.

Josh says it helps teenagers gain lifeskills like work experience, work ethics and responsibility. While employers get convenient access to a pool of willing and readily-available local labour. And people also learn a few things about the value of a dollar. It seems money doesn’t grow on trees, you have to earn it.

Some students on Teen Jobs don’t even have to break a sweat. “I needed a tutor to help my son at maths,” says one grateful mum. “There are so many teenagers that can help me. Thanks Teen Jobs.”

Josh’s Teen Jobs is a winner in the marketplace but also a prize-winner. He entered the website idea in the Young Innovators Award and came third in the junior category. A judge applauded the idea because Teen Jobs “really stood out for the thought about the end user”.

He self-taught to construct his first website, so on the back of that success Josh will be studying computer science at college next year. He suspects there might be a career weaving his interest in computers around business opportunities.